album review for the skinny
Leila - Blood, Looms and Blooms (**)
Leila’s debut album for Warp unnecessarily revives two mid-90s styles that should’ve been allowed to rest in peace: trip-hop, and Mr Scruff. Portishead changed their game because they realised trip-hop doesn’t need to come back, and the less said about Mr Scruff’s self-satisfied wackiness the better. For several tracks on Blood, Looms and Blooms, only the first 30 seconds or so are important, because the remainder consists of just quieter or louder variations on the loop. It’s a cheap trick, but it works well on Mettle, where fast-dripping water in a cave, straining strings and a battering bassline come in and out powerfully. Deflect uses the same bassline sound to support typically sultry vocals from Martina Topley-Bird, Tricky’s former beau, and a drowsily narcotic cover of Norwegian Wood with an unhinged falsetto is a highlight. But it’s all a bit dated, as you’d expect; if you dig up the dead, expect it to smell a little.